Missiological Thinking(MT)

Book Review

Perfect Harmony: Inter-racial churches in Early Holiness-Pentecostalism, 1880-1909 (Asbury Theological Seminary Series in Christian Revitalizati) by Joseph Thomas, Lexington, KY : Emeth Press, 2014, xiii+138pp, Paperback $21.63, ISBN: 978-1609470784

Reviewed by Rev. Aftab Yunis Hakim

The fractured Church has not only devastating effects on the body of Christ but rather it is not good for its surroundings. The church is only church if it exists for others and her existence for others is only possible if the Church is free from congregationalism and denominationalism. The disunity in any church is a termite eating the body of Christ. These termites weaken the body of Christ, and the church is not able to stand on its own. Eventually, the termite damage is too extensive for the body to survive. Joseph Thomas well sketched the nineteenth and twentieth-century era of the American church. Thomas examines the Perfect Harmony: Inter-racial churches in Early Holiness Pentecostalism from the period 1880-1909. The core argument of the author is that "sanctified unity ecclesiology proved effective in bringing people together across the lines of color and ethnicity" (12). It further explores the origins of Pentecostalism in the form of Azusa Street and appreciates the services of William Seymore. The first chapter is the introduction of the radical emergence of the holiness movement associated with the larger movement in the American church (13) that defines its social and historical background. This book further pursued the Wesleyan theology in America a biblical model of the church to experience holiness and restoration to reshape it according to the biblical pattern (54). Thomas well traced the existence of the church that sought unity between churches to change the face of the earth. And in this discourse Azusa Street revival brought significant change in the body of Christ. This working model of this movement was to bring exactly the same change that was at the heart of the early church. Thomas further argues that unfortunately the movement shortly existed and soon turned to the old pattern of denominationalism due to American apartheid (106). Though attempts were made to restore the church by removing the weeds of disunity, but all in vain. This book is a remedy for the termite-eating church to restore its fractured ness by looking at its past and restoring her brokenness opting the model of the early church.

This is really an amazing book that has a burden for the American churches to remove the weeds of schisms between churches. Though an effort has been made to resolve the tension of congregationalism, however, no or little has been offered on congregationalism. The church does not demand alone to resolve the tension of denominationalism, but rather it equally demands to seek unity within churches. And this is the place where Thomas has not worked very well. Moreover, though a practical concern is shown, however, nothing has been offered from this aspect as well and this is the reason this book has left its target audience doubting what is the practical lesson of improving the entire situation now. Thomas could have brought some practical aspects to resolve the whole situation of the American church, still, this is the best piece of Thomas that desire to seek unity between churches. This book is a great gift for ministry workers, leaders, and seminary students to work together to learn from the past for bringing perfect harmony within and between churches for the sake of changing the entire face of the earth.

Perfect Harmony: Inter-racial churches in Early Holiness-Pentecostalism, 1880-1909

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